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What is Gestational Surgery?

9-May-2019

Advances in assistive reproductive technology (ART) has made things possible that would have been impossible just a few decades ago. Gestational surgery is an aspect of infertility treatment that allows women and couples to have biological offspring through a ‘gestational carrier’. The process itself is often a last resort and is considered one of the most complex forms of IVF on the market today. It is the purpose of this article to explain in more detail the complex intricacies of this surgery.

In simple terms, gestational surgery is when a woman carries and gives birth to a child with whom she has no genetic relation. This can be an emotionally tough challenge for the carrier and it is important that clear guidelines are set out before the gestational carrier undertakes this process. The process involves the egg and sperm being fertilized outside the womb and the resulting embryo then being transferred to the gestational carrier, who will carry the baby on behalf of the intended parents. The procedure is one of the most complicated IVT treatments out there and it is important to understand this point at the beginning, however, this doesn’t mean that the procedure needs to be stressful.

There are a number of reasons why people would consider this type of surgery.  Most commonly, this option is available once a patient had had a series of failed embryo transfers or a history of miscarriages. Gay couples or single men may also consider this option in order to have children. All parties involved in the surgery would undertake a rigorous screening process with the carrier herself coming under particular attention in order to ensure a smooth process. In most cases, the woman will give birth to a baby whom she will not have a legal claim over, thus it is standard practice to have a written contract signed by all concerned parties. The gestational carrier will then undergo some of the normal IVF treatments, as she will be carrying an embryo from a donated egg and sperm, though the carrier will not receive the same ovulation stimulation typically reserved for a woman when undergoing the process using her own eggs. Instead, they will usually receive hormones to help the properly synchronization of her cycle for the upcoming embryo transfer.

As with many ART treatment options, there are some ethical considerations to bear in mind when considering this type of surgery. The primary concern is the emotional and financial coercion of the carrier herself. Thorough measures are undertaken to ensure that the selected carrier is not motivated by factors such as obligation or financial considerations. As you might expect, the process can be very challenging for the carrier especially if there is a family link with one of the intended parents. Finally, it is worth pointing out that the success rate of gestational surrogacy if fairly high in comparison to many other IVF treatments.

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